Reconstruction (architecture)
Reconstruction is a term in architectural conservation
Architectural conservation
Architectural conservation describes the process through which the material, historical, and design integrity of mankind's built heritage are prolonged through carefully planned interventions. The individual engaged in this pursuit is known as an architectural conservator...

 whose precise meaning varies, depending on the context in which they are used.

More broadly, such as under the Burra Charter
Burra Charter
The Burra Charter defines the basic principles and procedures to be followed in the conservation of Australian heritage places.In 1979, the Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance was adopted at a meeting of Australia ICOMOS at the historic mining town of...

 of Australia, "reconstruction" means returning a damaged building to a known earlier state by the introduction of new materials. It is related to the architectural concepts of restoration
Building restoration
Building restoration describes a particular treatment approach and philosophy within the field of architectural conservation. According the U.S...

 (repairing existing building fabric) and preservation
Historic preservation
Historic preservation is an endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance...

 (the prevention of further decay), wherein the most extreme form of reconstruction is creating a replica of a completely destroyed building.

More narrowly, such as under the Secretary of Interior's Standards in in the United States, "reconstruction" is "the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location."

Replica buildings and structures

There may be several reasons for the construction of a building or creation of a replica building or structure.

Sometimes, it is the result of destruction of landmark monuments that is experienced as traumatic by inhabitants of the region, such as through war, planning errors and politically motivated destruction, other times, merely the result of natural disaster. Examples include Yongdingmen
Yongdingmen was the former front gate of the outer section of Beijing's old city wall. Originally built in 1553, it was torn down in the 1950s to make way for the new road system in Beijing. In 2005, the Yongdingmen was reconstructed at the site of the old city gate...

 (former Peking city gate temporarily sacrificed to traffic considerations), St Mark's Campanile
St Mark's Campanile
St Mark's Campanile is the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy, located in the Piazza San Marco. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city....

 in Venice (collapsed in 1902), House of the Blackheads
House of the Blackheads
House of the Blackheads is a building situated in the old town of Riga, Latvia. The original building was erected during the first third of the 14th century for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried German merchants in Riga...

 (Riga), Iberian Gate and Chapel
Iberian Gate and Chapel
Resurrection Gate is the only existing gate of the Kitai-gorod in Moscow. It connects the north-western end of Red Square with Manege Square and gives its name to nearby Voskresenskaya Square . The gate adjoins the ornate building of the Moscow City Hall to the east and the State Historical Museum...

 and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Moscow)
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a Church in Moscow, Russia, on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks south-west of the Kremlin...

 in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 (destroyed by order of Stalin), Dresden Frauenkirche
Dresden Frauenkirche
The Dresden Frauenkirche is a Lutheran church in Dresden, eastern Germany.Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It has been reconstructed as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies...

 and Semperoper
The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden and the concert hall of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden . It is located near the Elbe River in the historic center of Dresden, Germany.The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841...

 in Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 (bombed at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

). A specifically well known example is the rebuilding of the historic city center of Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

  after 1945. The Old Town
Warsaw Old Town
Warsaw's Old Town is the oldest historic district of the city. It is bounded by Wybrzeże Gdańskie, along the bank of the Vistula, and by Grodzka, Mostowa and Podwale Streets. It is one of Warsaw's most prominent tourist attractions....

 and the Royal Castle
Royal Castle, Warsaw
The Royal Castle in Warsaw is a castle residency and was the official residence of the Polish monarchs. It is located in the Castle Square, at the entrance to the Warsaw Old Town. The personal offices of the king and the administrative offices of the Royal Court of Poland were located there from...

 had been badly damaged already at the outset of World War II. It was systematically razed to the ground by German troops after the Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...

 of 1944. The reconstruction of Warsaw's historic center (e.g.St. John's Cathedral
St. John's Cathedral, Warsaw
St. John's Archcathedral in Warsaw is a Catholic church in Warsaw's Old Town, is the only one archcathedral in Warszawa, the other 3 are cathedrals in the Polish capital. St. John's stands immediately adjacent to Warsaw's Jesuit church, and is one of the oldest churches in the city and the main...

, St. Kazimierz Church, Ujazdów Castle
Ujazdów Castle
Ujazdów Castle is a castle in the historic Ujazdów district, between Ujazdów Park and the Royal Baths Park , in Warsaw, Poland.-History:...

) as well as e.g. the replica of the Stari Most
Stari most
Stari Most is a 16th century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina that crosses the river Neretva and connects two parts of the city. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years, until it was destroyed on November 9, 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War...

 recently built in Mostar
Mostar is a city and municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the largest and one of the most important cities in the Herzegovina region and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation. Mostar is situated on the Neretva river and is the fifth-largest city in the country...

 (Bosnia Herzegovina) have met with official approval by UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...


Other times, reconstructions are made in the case of sites where the historic and cultural significance was not recognized until long after its destruction, common in North America, especially with respect to its early history. Examples include the reconstruction of Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the private foundation representing the historic district of the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. The district includes buildings dating from 1699 to 1780 which made colonial Virginia's capital. The capital straddled the boundary of the original shires of Virginia —...

 in Virginia, the rebuilding of numerous structures in Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park in Philadelphia that preserves several sites associated with the American Revolution and the nation's founding history. Administered by the National Park Service, the park comprises much of the downtown historic...

 in Philadelphia, and Fort William Historical Park
Fort William Historical Park
Fort William Historical Park is a Canadian historical site located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, that contains a reconstruction of the Fort William fur trade post as it existed in 1815. It officially opened on July 3, 1973...

 in Ontario, Canada.

Critics of reconstructed and replica buildings see them as a falsification of history
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 and as the creation of a kind of "architectural ersatz
Ersatz means 'substituting for, and typically inferior in quality to', e.g. 'chicory is ersatz coffee'. It is a German word literally meaning substitute or replacement...

". Most guidelines for reconstruction (such as the Burra and Venice
Venice Charter
The Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites is a treaty that gives an international framework for the preservation and restoration of ancient buildings...

 charters) suggest that new construction be distinguishable from the original.


When referring to ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s, a reconstruction is the creation of the ship's plans
Naval architecture
Naval architecture is an engineering discipline dealing with the design, construction, maintenance and operation of marine vessels and structures. Naval architecture involves basic and applied research, design, development, design evaluation and calculations during all stages of the life of a...

 from archaeological
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 evidence. A newly reconstructed ship is a ship replica
Ship replica
A ship replica is a reconstruction of a no longer existing ship. Replicas can range from authentically reconstructed, fully seaworthy ships, to ships of modern construction that give an impression of an historic vessel...


See also

  • Historic preservation
    Historic preservation
    Historic preservation is an endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance...

  • Building restoration
    Building restoration
    Building restoration describes a particular treatment approach and philosophy within the field of architectural conservation. According the U.S...

  • Ise Grand Shrine in Japan, (which is ceremonially rebuilt every 20 years)
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